Shepherd clinches playoff berth in 1-1 tie with Charleston University

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Junior goalkeeper Christi LaBella, pictured here earlier this season, and the Rams may not have wanted to settle for a tie, but Saturday's result was good enough to clinch the Rams a spot in the MEC Tournament later this week. (Photo Courtesy of Shepherd University's Athletic Department).

The Shepherd Rams women’s soccer battled to a 1-1 tie with the University of Charleston Gold Eagles Saturday, Oct. 29, in Charleston W.Va.

In the first half, neither team really took control, as both teams possessed the ball for an equal amount of time. Shepherd took a total of four shots in the first compared to Charleston’s two. Shepherd’s midfielders, however, stepped up to the challenge, led by senior midfielder Taylor Harwood.

The first half would end scoreless, as both teams were unable to create opportunities offensively. It was a great defensive performance from both teams. Both sides also played a physical game, with a total of four yellow cards and two red cards.

In the first five minutes of the second half, Shepherd’s senior forward Samantha Leonard would give the Rams their first and only score of the game. Leonard kicked the ball hard and low past Golden Eagles goalkeeper Zoe Zyta, a senior.

This gave the Rams a 1-0 lead, but the game was not over.

After the score, the game continued to be physical, as playoff hopes were on the line for both teams.

Throughout the second half, Shepherd had a total of six shots, with two on goal. Charleston had five shots, with three of them being on goal. However, the Golden Eagles had six corner kick opportunities, while the Rams only had two.

With the game coming to an end, Charleston started to take more chances offensively. In  the last two seconds of the game, the Golden Eagles would tie up the game, as senior midfielder Ivey Nucilli would score off an assist from teammate Marlee Coleman, a junior midfielder. The Rams were devastated, as they were so close to getting a victory.

Both teams battled hard in overtime, but failed to get on the scoreboard. With the tie, the Rams still secured the fourth seed in the semifinals of the Mountain East Conference tournament this Thursday, Nov. 2. Shepherd will take on top-seeded West Virginia Wesleyan at 2 p.m. in Buckhannon, W.Va.

In both previous matches against Wesleyan this season, the Rams lost to the Bobcats 1-0, so Thursday’s contest will have extra motivation for the Rams.

Justin Cole is a Sports Writer for the Picket. He can be reached at: jcole07@rams.shepherd.edu